accepting and affirming people who can encourage you and share in your
spiritual life and recovery. Others also need your support.
Start your own Spiritual Recovery Group.
Romans 15:1, 7: "We
who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those without strength
and not just please ourselves… Therefore accept one another just as
Christ also accepted you to the glory of God."
recovery programs include a time and place for people in recovery to
meet and share with others who are dealing with the same issues and
problems. You need and can help others who are facing and dealing
with recovery from abusive and oppressive religion. You can learn
from the experiences of others and they can learn from you.
an appropriate and supportive group can be difficult. Churches
usually are indifferent or even hostile to gay and lesbian people who
are dealing with how the church has hurt them. Some churches,
such as Metropolitan Community Churches and a growing number of
traditional churches are reaching out in love and acceptance to
homosexuals without judgment or condemnation.
You can start your
own group. You do not have to have a large group of people to
begin. Two people can develop a time and place for dialogue and
sharing that will be encouraging and supportive to them. Don't be
discouraged if you never move beyond two or three people in your
group. Keep it simple.
in a home or in a public place like a coffee shop or at local
gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender centers are some of the various
settings for many kinds of recovery programs. As in all recovery
programs, the purpose of a group is not to preach or promote any
organization but to be open, accepting and non judgmental.
Creating an atmosphere of mutual respect and acceptance
encourages growth, self esteem and healthy healing dialogue.
Jesus met with his group of close friends outdoors, in homes, and in a
variety of places.
Look at the material on "Start Your Own Group" included in this web site. Contact people at
Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches and ask for information about
local churches and about finding supportive groups in your area.
Feel free to e-mail the author of this web site for more information: firstname.lastname@example.org
See START YOUR OWN GROUP and my brochure on Guidelines for Small Group Spiritual Recovery.
Further discussion of Step 10 can be found in my book Steps To Recovery From Bible Abuse in the following Lessons:
(Click on the Bible references to see them.)
No. 37. "STAND BY ME"
Acts 4:31-37; 9:26-28; 11:22-26
No. 38. "LOVE IN ACTION"
No. 39. "HOW TO INCLUDE EVERYBODY"
Acts 6:1-7; John 17:20-23
No. 40. "GROUP DYNAMICS ACCORDING TO JESUS"
On to Step 11
Update for November 10, 2004
faith leads to fractured lives and to schizophrenic personalities and
splintered existence. Our culture today is dividing and
conquering millions of individuals simply by fracturing every value and
every truth that we hold to be self evident. All people are
increasingly not seen to be equal. The great conviction of Jesus
that all people have equal value before God is being challenged in
every church and every religious and political organization in the
of the progress in human rights and civil rights during the past 50
years is being threatened and attacked by the growing power and
authority of religious and political separatism and division at every
level of family, social, business, political, educational and religious
life. We are not so much a nation divided as we are a nation
FINDING CONSISTENCY WITHIN
a complete and consistent self image and self acceptance eludes you
when you look only outside and beyond yourself to discover who you
really are. Look within. Let the Creator who made you the
special unique person that you are guide you on your inner journey to
wholeness and health and to joyful self-acceptance.
have received hundreds of e-mail messages since the election last week
that express the growing distrust and dismay of GLBT people and others
that their individual person and being are being distorted and rejected
by increasingly hostile elements of our society. I have also
received a great increase in the number of people, especially young
people, who have found my website and been helped to accept themselves
and to take a stand for GLBT understanding and human rights in school
and at work.
PEACE WITH GOD AND PEACE WITHIN
used the word "reconciliation" to talk about finding peace with God,
peace within and peace with others. Dr. William Hull, Professor
of New Testament at Louisville, led a full semester study of
"Reconciliation" as part of my doctoral graduate work. One
emphasis was on breaking down the walls of hostility that separate us
from God, from ourselves and from others. The biblical basis for
the study was found in the four places where Paul used the term
"reconcile". Yet the entire ministry of Paul was a ministry of
reconciliation bringing Jews and Gentiles together and breaking down
the walls of hostility that divided people.
These are the four passages: Romans 5:11;
1 Corinthians 7:11; 2 Corinthians 5:20; Colossians 1:20.
See also Ephesians 2:13-22 about breaking down the walls of hostility that separate us from God and from each other. Review all of Step 10 on "Build Your Support System".
practical personal method that Paul used to try to bring Gentiles and
Jews together in Jesus was to gather a collection from the Gentile
churches that he visited and take the collection to Jerusalem to give
to Jewish Christians as a way of demonstrating reconciliation and
breaking down the centuries old walls of hostility. Paul gave his
life for this collection.
he came to Jerusalem after being warned of danger, he was arrested and
sent to Rome. Whatever you may think of some of Paul's personal
opinions in his letters, his ministry was clearly dominated by efforts
to bring people together and break down the hostile walls that divided
them. (See the "collection" in 1 Corinthians l6:1-4; 2
Corinthians. 8:1-4; Acts 24:17 and related passages.)
felt led to take a collection from Gentile Christians to poor Jewish
Christians in Jerusalem. What methods of spiritual reconciliation
are available to you today? Be creative. Pray about what
you can do to overcome some of the distance and hostility between
people around you, especially your own family and friends. Coming
out (Step 9)
can be a positive step of reconciliation within yourself and with your
family. "Coming out" is simply sharing your truth about yourself
God to show you what you can do to bring reconciliation. God
always has better plans for us than we do. Discuss this with your
partner or home study group. Never underestimate the importance
of a phone call, a visit, a small gift, a sincere compliment or even
simply going out of your way to greet someone.
accurate information available about homosexuality and the Bible from
my website and book can be a great means of reconciliation with other
people. I continue to get letters from many GLBT people around
the world who have found help in my website to deal with their own
self-esteem and help in getting along with their parents and friends.
My own personal support system includes my mother, my sister and her husband, and my
extended family of aunts, uncles and cousins.
This update was added on May 10, 2002:
"MY ANGEL MOTHER"
Abraham Lincoln said: "All that I am I owe to my angel mother."
means: "messenger from God." My mother just returned to Martha
Franks Retirement Center in Laurens, S.C., from a visit this week with
her sister in McCormick. Several members of the family who were
present for our celebration of Mother's ninetieth birthday last August
were also in McCormick this week.
MY TEACHER MOTHER
mother was my first and best teacher. Both of my parents
demonstrated love and family values that are part of my life
today. My mother taught me to respect and take care of
myself. She taught me to respect and accept other people.
There was no room for racial or other prejudice in my home, and I am
grateful for the preparation for my present life and ministry that was
given to me when I was a child growing up in Spartanburg and in
parents are teachers, and what children learn by the age of four goes
with them for the rest of their lives. Self-respect, self-esteem,
and self-acceptance begin very early or can be crushed and defeated
very early in every individual.
patience, the enjoyment of nature and good books, finishing what you
start, doing your best at whatever you do, doing what you say you will
do, being considerate of others, accepting and affirming people who are
different from you, respecting yourself and others, and trusting in God
are just some of the basic "family values" that I learned from my
mother and father.
What did you learn from your mother? What are you teaching the people in your life today?
MY ENCOURAGING MOTHER
mother is probably the main reason that I have entered into and
continue my spiritual journey and ministry as a gay man on a mission of
teaching and healing. My mother gets all of the updates (in very
large type so she can see them) and reads and comments to me about
them. She read all the way through my book three times in the
first year that it was published. She has accepted me and
affirmed me in my sexual orientation and GLBT activism.
fortunate. Though many openly LGBT people have the total support
and acceptance of their parents and other family members, many do
not. Because of the support and acceptance of my parents, all of
the rest of my very large family of aunts, uncles, and cousins also
accept and encourage me. This has meant a lot to me and been an
important source of peace of mind and self-esteem for me. My sister
also has accepted, affirmed and supported me in every way possible
throughout our lives.
MOTHER MAKES ME THINK
mother interacts with me about my updates and other writings. She
does not always agree with me, and we have some lively debates on the
phone! I always learn from her and keep re-thinking what I am
saying and doing as she shares her ideas and views with me, just as
many of you do also in your e-mail that you send to me.
mother continues to make regular visits to other residents at the
center, especially to those in the infirmary. At the age of
ninety, she sets an example of compassionate concern for others that is
characteristic of her entire life. Her present ministry of
visitation and prayer encourages me to learn better how to mister to
will not see my mother on Sunday, because she is in South Carolina and
I am in California. We will talk on the phone, as we do about
every other day. Perhaps someone has been like a mother to you,
call that person (male or female) and express your gratitude and
appreciation. Perhaps you have been like a mother to someone who
was abandoned or rejected by his or her own mother, and you can get in
touch and affirm and encourage that person once again.
GOD AS MOTHER
Jeremias, the great German biblical scholar, has pointed out that in
the 15 places in the Hebrew Bible where God is called "Father" the
context of the passages demonstrates God engaging mostly in mothering
functions. This is especially true in Hosea. See Hosea 11,
which begins with "Out of Egypt have I called my son." Jesus drew
on Hosea over 40 times in the Gospel accounts. The Hosea vision
of God as Mother/Father was undoubtedly in the mind of Jesus.
In Hosea, the Hebrew word for God's "compassion" is the word for the mother's womb.
said that in view of the mothering functions of God as Parent, the word
Father should always be rendered as Mother and Father. Why don't
we do that now that we know the truth about the Mother/Father role of
God in the Bible? Is our traditional masculine vision of God so
powerful that we cannot revise our thinking no matter what the evidence
substitute "Creator" for Father in inclusive translations misses the
point! God is Mother/Father in the mind of Jesus whenever the
word Father is used. On the cross, Jesus said, "Father, into your
hands I commit my spirit." This is a quotation from Psalm 31:5
(in Luke 23:46). The word "Father" is not in Psalm 31:5.
Jesus added "Father" to express his relationship of trust and hope in
God, his Mother/Father, who is also your Mother/Father.
"THINGS CAN CHANGE"
This material was added on December 2, 200l.
do not have to remain like you are. You do not have to continue
to be unhappy, frustrated, angry with yourself, and desperate.
Things can change.
"NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE WITH GOD"
statement that "nothing is impossible with God" has encouraged me and
given me hope even in some of my darkest hours. See: Jeremiah
32:17, 26; Luke 1:37; Matthew 19:26: "Jesus said: This is humanly
impossible, but with God all things are possible." (Also in Mark 10:27
& Luke 18:27.) Genesis 18:14; Job 42:2 also declare that nothing is
impossible with God.
When I pray, I
always pray for miracles. I pray for God to do things that I
cannot even understand, much less control. Over and over, God has
demonstrated love for me and power to change things in my life that I
thought were hopeless. Nothing is hopeless or impossible with God.
I have experienced some personal miracles that seemed impossible just a
few days ago. God is at work in my life and in yours also.
Often we are unable to see what God is accomplishing along the way,
because our understanding is distracted and incomplete. God does
not give us perfect understanding, but God always gives us what is best
for us if we sincerely desire God's will to be done.
WILD AND CRAZY EVENTS
As I look back, I realize that some of the most "wild and crazy" things that happen to me are being used to bring
answers to my prayers and to give me what is truly best for my life at this time.
you make a clear definite decision that you want God's will to be done
in your life, you can let go and move on, because God is in charge and
will always give you far better things than you can ever give to
yourself. God made you like you are, and God knows what will
really work best for you.
FAITH, COURAGE, HOPE
God. Believe that God really does love and accept you as you
are. Have the courage to let God do for you what you cannot do
for yourself. Live in hope that God is working on your behalf in
everything that is happening to you and around you. Often I have
asked God what I should do to change a certain situation or to change
another person. God's answer is: "Nothing." Yet I still
want to do it myself, and whenever I try, I make a mess and have to
pull back and start over!
go and letting God do for me what I can never do for myself is a
constant challenge. I keep trying to "fix things" and "arrange
things" and "fix people" and I end up making things worse. God
doesn't make mistakes! So why don't I let God handle what I
cannot manage? Where IS my faith?
what I am saying ringing any kind of bell at all for you? Have
you felt the same struggles and frustrations that I am describing in
myself? How have you managed to let God handle for you what was
impossible for you to fix?
THE FIRST DAY OF THE WEEK
is called "the first day of the week" in the New Testament. It
became the great day of celebration for believers because it is the day
of resurrection and the basis for hope that God is at work and changes
things. Today is Sunday. It is a very stormy day here in
Oakland, California, as a great Pacific storm is moving onshore even as
I write this.
storm changed some of the circumstances in my life yesterday that
brought a miracle and answered prayers. Today, Sunday, is the
first day of starting over and making a new beginning that looks to the
future instead of wallowing in mistakes of the recent past.
thank God and praise God for the positive healthy changes that God is
making and that I can never make.
See Cindy Hadden's article about Soulforce at the National Conference of Catholic.
do not try to deal with all of the many political, religious, social
and cultural controversies related to our GLBT community. What is
happening to you personally in your own mind and emotions and in your
closest relationships hits much closer to home for me, though politics
and current events are very important to all of us. For current
news related to GLBT issues, See the Interfaith Working Group:
and to subscribe to their
On to Step 11